Daryl Morey

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Morey, Trade Deadline, Harris

The Sixers got good news this morning about Joel Embiid‘s left knee, but there’s more to the story than the MRI results, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Embiid is projected to miss two to three weeks with a bone bruise after a scary fall in Friday’s game.

Bodner estimates that April 3 is probably the earliest realistic date for Embiid to return, which will affect Philadelphia’s hopes for the top seed in the East. That would mean a 10-game absence, with eight of those games against teams with records of .500 or better. Losing Embiid could affect not only the playoff seedings, but also the MVP race and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey’s desire to make a major trade by the March 25 deadline.

An extended absence could affect Embiid’s next contract as well, Bodner adds. If Embiid makes an All-NBA team this season or in 2021/22, he will be eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension, which means his salary could start at 35% of the salary cap, rather than 30%.

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • Morey gained a reputation for being aggressive at the trade deadline in Houston, but he’s cautioning Sixers fans not to count on a major deal this year, according to Dan Gelston of The Associated Press. Morey likes the cohesiveness of his current players, who are off to a 26-12 start. “We have a great group, a great chemistry, they’re playing at a high level, they play even better against very good teams,” he said. “That’s something fragile and we need to respect it. Long story short, everyone expecting some big thing, I would ask them to be excited about who we have more than what’s possible.”
  • The Sixers are “loaded with assets” as they approach the trade deadline, ESPN’s Bobby Marks says in an Instagram video. They have an $8.29MM trade exception and seven players with expiring contracts. Marks expects Philadelphia to be in the mix for Andre Drummond, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kyle Lowry.
  • Tobias Harris feels like he has something to prove after being overlooked for the All-Star Game, writes Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Harris wasn’t selected as a reserve even though he averaged 20.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in the first half of the season. “When me and (head coach Doc Rivers) talk about it, I just tell him, ‘Look, I’ve got a bounty out for all the coaches that didn’t vote for me, all the national media that skipped over me,’” Harris said. “It is what it is, but me and Doc discuss that you make your name known in the playoffs and leading this team, and being solid and what you do day in and day out. And that was my mentality.”

Atlantic Notes: Morey, Embiid, Raptors, Griffin, Harden

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has been blown away by Joel Embiid‘s talent, comparing him favorably to former Most Valuable Player James Harden. In an interview with Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated, Morey lavished praise on his MVP candidate. “I get in trouble when I say stuff like this but he’s the most unstoppable thing I’ve ever seen,” he said. “And I’ve seen a lot. You know who I’ve seen. But I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Morey also admits he’s irritated by the Nets’ collection of stars. “I mean, it’s annoying,” he said. “I would rather have all the good players in the West. So that’s probably annoying. But you know, everything else will get me fined, I think.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors will allow up to 3,500 fans at Tampa’s Amalie Arena beginning on March 19, according to a team press release. Toronto begins its post-All-Star break schedule at home against Atlanta on Thursday, then heads out for a three-game road swing. The Raptors, who have 18 home games remaining after Thursday’s contest, began the season allowing fans in Amalie Arena, but closed their doors in early January following an increase in coronavirus cases in the area.
  • James Harden is sure that the Nets’ latest addition, Blake Griffin, will be highly motivated to win a ring, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. Harden noted that Griffin gave back $13.3MM to the Pistons in his buyout. “I’m sure he wants to win. If he’s passed up on money to stay in Detroit, he wants to win, and he wants to have an opportunity to play meaningful minutes. I’m assuming that’s one of the reasons why he came.” Harden also believes Griffin can contribute with his improved ball-handling and 3-point shooting in recent seasons, Scotto relays in another tweet.
  • Griffin’s play-making from the power forward position gives the Nets a new dimension, according to Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. Schiffer breaks down all of Griffin’s assists this season to demonstrate how he could help in that aspect.

Western Notes: Thunder, Rockets, Morey, Doncic, LeBron

Over half of the NBA’s teams are either currently hosting fans at their home games or have announced plans to do so soon. However, the Thunder won’t be joining that list. The team sent out an email to season ticket holders confirming that fans won’t be allowed to attend games at Chesapeake Energy Arena for the rest of the season, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets.

The decision was based on several factors,” the Thunder said in their email, according to Mussatto (Twitter link). “The ultimate one being that the overall health and safety of our fans and our community is the most important thing to us.”

Let’s round up a few more items from around the Western Conference…

  • Multiple sources within the Rockets organization believe that former general manager Daryl Morey decided to leave the team last fall in part because he expected James Harden would want out, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN. According to MacMahon’s sources, Morey had expressed reservations last summer about his ability to “keep James happy” without the assets necessary to keep upgrading the roster.
  • Mavericks guard Luka Doncic has been downgraded to doubtful for Wednesday night’s game vs. Oklahoma City, but a source tells ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that Doncic is still expected to play in this weekend’s All-Star Game even if he sits out tonight. Doncic is also tentatively on track to participate in the Skills Challenge.
  • Lakers star LeBron James, who ranks fourth in the NBA this season in total minutes played, will sit out the second half of the team’s back-to-back set on Wednesday, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, James will receive treatment on his left ankle, but like Doncic, he expects to play in Sunday’s All-Star Game.

And-Ones: Williams, Ezeli, China, Koumadje

Former NBA center Johnathan Williams has parted ways with Turkish team Galatasaray, according to a team press release. The undrafted big man appeared in 15 games, including six starts, with the Wizards last season. He also saw action in 17 games for Washington’s G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go. He played in 24 games with the Lakers during the 2018/19 season.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former Warriors center Festus Ezeli is in quarantine in the G League bubble in Orlando and will be out Sunday, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets. He’s in the player pool there, making him eligible to be picked up by any team. Ezeli, 31, logged 170 NBA games but hasn’t played since the 2016 NBA Finals due to knee injuries.
  • China Central Television (CCTV) still isn’t showing NBA games, Bill Shea of The Athletic reports. CCTV stopped airing games prior to last season after then Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted support for pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. CCTV did show two NBA Finals games in October.
  • Free agent Christ Koumadje has reached agreement with Alba Berlin in Germany, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. The 7’3” center was the G League Defensive Player of the Year for the Delaware Blue Coats last season. Koumadje, 24, was in training camp with the Sixers in 2019. International journalist Christos Harpidis first reported the sides were in advanced talks.

Atlantic Notes: Drummond, Edwards, Walker, Morey

The Nets may be hoping for an Andre Drummond buyout in Cleveland to help solve their center woes, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn has been short-handed in the middle since parting with Jarrett Allen in the James Harden trade. Veteran DeAndre Jordan remains the starter, but depth at the position has become an issue as the Nets have fallen from 11th to 25th in defensive rating since the deal.

Allen and Drummond are part of a crowded frontcourt in Cleveland, along with JaVale McGee and Kevin Love, who have also been mentioned as potential targets for Brooklyn. The Nets parted with a significant amount of their draft capital in the Harden trade, so the buyout market would be ideal. Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer (video link) and Zach Harper of The Athletic both mentioned a possible Drummond buyout this week, with Harper suggesting it’s “just a matter of time.”

Lewis reports that Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks is expected to hold on to at least one of his two available exceptions so he can be aggressive when buyouts begins. Players can be waived as late as April 9 and still be eligible for the postseason with another team.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics guard Carsen Edwards confirmed that the four games his missed earlier this month were because he tested positive for COVID-19, writes Tom Westerholm of Boston.com“I don’t know what I’m allowed to talk about,” Edwards said. “But I mean, I did test positive, and I had symptoms for a couple of days. But then after that, I was kind of just — I lost my taste and my smell, and then after that, I was quarantined. The first two nights were rough, but after that I was just kind of in quarantine just trying to stay out the way and be healthy and get healthy. But I’m fine now. I feel better.”
  • The Celtics likely won’t use Kemba Walker in back-to-back games for the rest of the season, relays Conor Roche of Boston.com. Appearing on a radio show this morning, coach Brad Stevens discussed his plans for Walker, who has been on a minutes limit since returning. “We’ll keep his minutes down. I’m not going to play him in the mid-30s (minutes wise) at any point here in the near future,” Stevens said. “It’s all part of a plan that’s not only for the best interest of this team, but also in the best interest of his career here moving forward. As the season goes on and we get into late April, early May, before the playoffs, we’ll ramp him up a little bit.”
  • Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is in quarantine for COVID-19 contact tracing unrelated to the team, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

And-Ones: Felder, Rockets, Musa, 2021 Prospects

Ex-NBA point guard Kay Felder is returning to the Chinese Basketball Association, where he will play for Zhejiang Guangsha Lions, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando.

The 5’9″ point guard was selected out of Oakland with the No. 52 pick in 2016 by the Hawks before being traded to the Cavaliers. He suited up for the Cavaliers, Bulls and Pistons across parts of two NBA seasons. Felder played for the G League affiliates of all three teams, and joined the Raptors’ G League affiliate, the Raptors 905, for part of the 2018/19 season.

For his NBA career, Felder averaged 3.8 PPG, 1.3 APG and 1.0 RPG. As Lupo notes, Felder averaged approximately 18 points, eight assists, and five rebounds per game during the 2019/20 season for the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers.

There are more notes from around the basketball world:

  • The Rockets‘ 120-102 loss to the Lakers on Sunday night marked the first Houston game broadcast in China since former general manager Daryl Morey sent out a now-infamous tweet supporting Hong Kong protesters ahead of the 2019/20 NBA season, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Stein adds that Morey’s current club, the Sixers, has not yet had a game broadcast in China this season.
  • Former Nets wing Dzanan Musa will return to Europe to join a new international club, according to agent Misko Raznatovic (via Twitter). The 6’9″ swingman averaged 4.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 1.1 APG across 49 games in his two NBA seasons.
  • Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN have discussed which 2021 draft prospects have recently caught their eye in a new top 100 list. Stanford wing Ziaire Williams, LSU shooting guard Cam Thomas, and ASU shooting guard Josh Christopher all merit mention.

Sixers’ Daryl Morey Fined By NBA For Tampering Violation

The NBA has fined Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey $50K for a violation of the league’s anti-tampering rules, according to a press release.

As the league explained in its announcement, the fine is a response to a December 20 Twitter post about James Harden that Morey has since deleted.

As captured by Bleacher Report, Morey tweeted last Sunday about the one-year anniversary of Harden breaking the Rockets‘ franchise record for total assists. He shared an “On This Day” memory of a post from December 20, 2019 celebrating the achievement before removing it several minutes later.

Morey told the NBA that the tweet was an inadvertent post from an automated app, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). However, he’ll still be responsible for paying a $50K fine, a strong signal that the league isn’t letting anything slide when it comes to its efforts to crack down on tampering.

The fact that the Sixers are reportedly one of Harden’s preferred trade destinations likely played a part in the NBA’s decision.

Sixers Notes: Morey, Simmons, Lue, Embiid

Daryl Morey set off an international firestorm last year with a tweet supporting protestors in Hong Kong, and he says in an interview with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan that he feared it would cost him his NBA career.

The Sixers‘ new president of basketball operations was still general manager in Houston when he sent the tweet in October of 2019. Although the Rockets resisted demands from Chinese officials to fire Morey, he understood that he put the league in a difficult position considering the business dealings it has in China.

Morey explained that he had gotten to know several Hong Kong residents in business school and wanted to show solidarity for their cause. Although he said he’s still “very comfortable” with his decision, the tweet caused a huge controversy and cost the league hundreds of millions in international revenue.

“In the last 12 months, I had moments where I thought I might never work in the NBA again, for reasons I was willing to go down for,” Morey said. “But I love working, I love what I do, and I didn’t want that to happen.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Ben Simmons has heard his name mentioned as a potential trade piece to bring James Harden to Philadelphia, but he’s focused on the season rather than the rumors, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I come in every day, take it a day at a time, ready to work,” Simmons said. “I’m with my teammates. … Every day I wake up, every time I got a Sixers uniform on, I’m representing the Sixers. So my mentality never changes. I’m here to win a championship. That goal is never gonna change. I know things are always going to be said in the media, and rumors and things like that, but my goal is to come in every day and get better and help the team that I’m on win a championship.”
  • Tyronn Lue was scheduled to interview for the Sixers’ head coaching job in September, but he never had Joel Embiid‘s support, according to Bill Oram and Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Lue had the backing of agent Rich Paul, who represents Simmons, and Embiid wasn’t comfortable with Simmons’ “guy” being hired. Embiid also opposed Lue for “X’s and O’s reasons,” per The Athletic’s duo.
  • The additions of Doc Rivers and Morey brought excitement to Philadelphia, but Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer warns Sixers fans to be realistic in their expectations. He believes that unless Morey can upgrade the supporting cast around Embiid and Simmons, the Sixers will be in the running for fifth place in a more competitive Eastern Conference.

Rockets Notes: Tucker, Harden, Morey, Wall, Cousins

Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, after not traveling with the team for this weekend’s preseason games, is expected to join the team for Monday’s practice and could play Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link). Tucker, 35, had reported to camp a day late and had been limited during practices as the team ramps up his activity.

As we previously relayed, Tucker has been upset about not receiving an extension from the Rockets. In fact, Tucker’s desire to remain in Houston long-term dates back to at least June 2019, when he said he would “love” to discuss an extension. However, major turnover has taken place since then, including the departures of longtime head coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey, the recent trade of Russell Westbrook, and the current uncertainty of James Harden‘s future with the franchise.

Over the past few seasons, Tucker has established himself as a core piece of Houston’s lineup. The 6’7″ Tucker shifted into a center role after Clint Capela was traded, paving the way for the Rockets’ small-ball lineup. Tucker excelled in the role as a defensive stopper for the Rockets, in addition to maintaining a near 37-percent clip shooting beyond the arc.

Check out more news and notes around the Rockets organization below:

  • Harden has begun individual workouts with the Rockets as he works toward recording six consecutive negative COVID-19 tests, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. At that point, Harden can begin practicing with the team. The Rockets superstar’s interest in being traded has become a significant talking point in recent weeks, with reports this week indicating that he has expanded his list of preferred destinations beyond the Nets.
  • While Morey’s departure from the Rockets seemed abrupt, he reportedly informed the team he would be leaving his role as GM about a month before the news became public, per Henry Abbott of TrueHoop (subscription required).
  • New acquisitions John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins looked promising during their preseason debuts as Rockets on Friday. Wall, in his first action in over two years coming off heel and Achillies injuries, recorded 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting, five rebounds, nine assists and two steals in the Rockets’ 125-104 win over the Bulls. As for Cousins, he saw 15 minutes of action, tallying 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. “Tonight was just great to be back in an NBA game, period,” Wall said after the game, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Free Agency Rumors: Markieff Morris, Craig, Bazemore, Sixers

A Morris brothers reunion might be in play for the Clippers, Jason Dumas of KRON4 News tweets. Dumas notes that there may be mutual interest in adding free agent forward Markieff Morris – most recently of the Lakers – to a Clippers frontcourt that includes newly re-signed forward Marcus Morris, Markieff’s twin brother. Marcus has agreed to a four-year, $64MM deal to remain with the Clippers.

Markieff’s minutes may be relatively minimal, as he would presumably be the fourth big man in the Clippers’ frontcourt rotation, behind starting power forward Marcus, starting center Ivica Zubac, and just-added veteran power forward/center Serge Ibaka, who will be signed using the club’s full MLE after the departure of Montrezl Harrell to the Lakers. Big man Patrick Patterson was also retained by the Clippers this offseason.

Marcus was a key role-playing piece in the Lakers’ championship run after joining the team off waivers this spring. In 18.4 MPG, Markieff averaged 5.9 PPG and 3.0 RPG, while shooting a stellar 42% on 3.3 three-point attempts per game and 77.8% from the charity stripe across 21 games en route to the Lakers’ 17th NBA title.

Meanwhile, if Marc Gasol ultimately leaves the Raptors for the Lakers, Toronto has strong interest in replacing him with Markieff Morris, and may be able to offer him more than the Clippers can afford.

Here are more free agency rumors:

  • Darren Wolfson of KSTP 5 Eyewitness News tweets that the Timberwolves also considered adding free agent guard Torrey Craig to their offseason roster. Craig ultimately agreed to a contract with the Bucks this offseason, the terms of which have yet to be released.
  • Though Kent Bazemore wound up returning to the Warriors and his close friend Stephen Curry on a veteran’s minimum contract, the Clippers apparently considered using their $3.6MM bi-annual exception to sign the veteran swingman, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets.
  • Though Sixers GM Daryl Morey has already made significant changes to Philadelphia, the club still needs a great perimeter scorer, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer observes. “Obviously, our job is to always look for opportunities,” Morey commented this weekend. “But we feel very good about where we are right now.” Pompey notes that in Ben Simmons, the Sixers have the kind of All-Star blue chip piece that could fit well into a deal for Rockets superstar perimeter scorer James Harden.